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Hands-on Gear Review
Black Diamond Fitzroy Review
Cons: Bulky for a single wall tent, harder than average to set up, poor ventilation
The Black Diamond Fitzroy is an extremely strong, spacious two person or tightish three-person single wall expedition tent. Four quality Easton poles setup from the inside and cross seven times, while a waterproof breathable three-layer ePTFE membrane provides durable protection from the elements.
This model is likely the most bomber single wall tent we've tested and one of the stronger tents out there, period; its pole design and super tight pitch are hard to beat in even the fiercest storm. It does come at two small costs: (1) It's one of the most difficult tents to set up and takes the most practice to become proficient. (2) It's the heaviest single wall tent we've tested (7 lb. 1 oz without its optional vestibule). That said, it's still rather average overall compared with double walled options and weighs 1-2 pounds less than several other 4-pole models that offer comparable storm protection.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Ease of Setup
There are many advantages that this model offers, but ease of setup isn't one of them. Of all the single wall tents we've tested, this one is the hardest to pitch. It pitches from the inside with the ends of the poles being inserted into reinforced sections of the tent and slightly finicky plastic twist ties wrap around the poles to help keep them locked in place. Once the poles are set, they are extremely well supported by the walls, providing the foundation for the strength of the tent.
Setting this contender up can be a little cumbersome at first, but with a little repetition, it gets much easier. It's not that any part of the setup is necessarily harder than Black Diamond's other single wall tents, there is just twice as many poles to deal with.
This four season tent offers ROCK SOLD protection in even the worst of conditions. Weather and wind resistance is why you buy this absolutely bomber tent, no doubt. This tent has been used on many epic climbs all over the world and we found that its' DRUM TIGHT walls resist fierce gusts like a resilient boxing champion. As far as its strength in a storm, we think its just as tough as it gets. It's easily among the strongest tents in our review and there is a chance it might even be the strongest tent we've tested. It is even better in severe storms than our Editors' Choice the Hilleberg Jannu, Mountain Hardwear EV 2 or Black Diamond Eldorado and offers comparable strength to the Hilleberg Tarra or Mountain Hardwear Trango 2.
The Fitzroy is viable for three people (it's a little tight) or provides two with more than enough space for expedition or base camping use. For another $140 you can add a well-designed optional vestibule, but that does bring the price of the Fitzroy to almost $850. Overall, the Fitzroy, because of its above average amount of living space (36 square feet), is one of the most comfortable tents to be forced to log some time in. It doesn't offer quite as much headroom as some of the other options (like the Black Diamond Eldorado or Black Diamond Ahwahnee), but it's also 1-2 pounds lighter than most other options that are near as livable.
The main advantage here is the three-layer ePTFE membrane that's similar to those found on the world's best hardshell jackets. This construction type is used by many tents and is likely the most durable single wall tent fabric. The tent corners are heavily reinforced, too. We give this tent 10 out of 10 points for durability because it is super tough and is easily more durable than the Mountain Hardwear EV 2.
The tent weighs as little as 68 oz. or 6 lb. 4 oz, but most folks will find a packed weight of around 7 lbs 1 oz. This is much heavier than other two-person single wall tents and also heavier than several ultra bomber double wall tents!! For example, the also rock solid, (but not quite as rock solid) Mountain Hardwear EV 2 weighs more than a pound less. The Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 weighs less than half as much as the Fitzroy. And the double wall Hilleberg Jannu weighs the same and provides a lot more versatility and a touch more comfort. All that said, for the extra weight, the Fitzory is stronger and provides more weather protection than all of these models.
Adaptability and Moisture Management
The tent must be pitched the same way every time. It is a poor choice for warmer three season conditions and in low elevation backpacking trips (seasoned with some wet weather), it performed downright poorly. It is indeed a bomber tent; just don't buy it for its versatility, because other than the doors, this tent has virtually no ventilation. For lower elevation camping, we find that ventilation is more important than breathability; the Mountain Hardwear EV 3 offers much better ventilation. Ditto with basically all other two-person single wall tents. Largely due to this drawback, we found that the Fitzroy is more prone to condensation than other tents.
This tent excels when used in high altitude mountaineering, base camps, and alpine climbing, often in burly stormy venues like the Alaska Range and the Karakoram. It's a fantastic winter camping tent and is good for most summertime alpine climbing in the lower 48, though it is a little overkill.
Value and the Bottom Line
At $800, the Fitzroy is one of the more expensive tents in our review; then you take into account that the vestibule is an additional $140 bringing the total to $940), means this is not a cheap tent. We feel the Mountain Hardwear EV 3 is a better value, but in the worst of storms or for hanging out with two people for weeks on end in a base camping situation, we'd prefer the Fitzroy. It isn't as lightweight nor as compact as several of the two and three pole single wall tents, which equates to it not being as good for more technical climbing with your tent on your back type routes. If weather protection and overall strength are your priorities while keeping weight, packed size, and livability as important factors, then the Fitzroy should be a strong consideration.
Black Diamond First Light
Black Diamond Ahwahnee
— Ian Nicholson, Chris McNamara
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Most recent review: July 18, 2016
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